Cyber Resilient 911 Symposium

Empowering a Secure Future: Recap of the First Cyber Resilient 911 Symposium

Author: Lisa Festa, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Emergency Communications Division (ECD)

In a world where technology evolves rapidly, ensuring the security and resilience of our nation’s Emergency Communications Centers (ECCs) is of paramount importance. The inaugural Cyber Resilient 911 (CR911) symposium, hosted by CISA’s Emergency Communications Division (ECD), in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA), was a significant milestone in the journey towards a cyber-resilient 911 ecosystem. Held on September 19-20, 2023 in Herndon, VA, this collaborative event gathered 911 stakeholders from CISA regions 1, 2 and 3 (Northeast region) to discuss the cyber threat landscape and to explore available tools, frameworks, and solutions. The symposium aimed to foster communication and collaboration among these stakeholders, ultimately leading to enhanced cybersecurity measures in the 911 community.

Reflecting on the significance of this initiative, Billy Bob Brown Jr., Executive Assistant Director of CISA’s ECD, stated, “The CR911 program represents a critical step in fortifying our nation’s emergency communications centers against cyber threats. Thanks to all our 911 stakeholders, our esteemed partners at NHTSA, NTIA, and FCC, as well as to all our speakers from other CISA divisions, state, local and federal entities, for joining us and making the event a resounding success. Through their invaluable contributions, we have created a rich learning environment, fostering collaboration that is instrumental in building a secure and resilient 911 ecosystem capable of effectively responding to evolving cybersecurity challenges."

The CR911 program is an initiative dedicated to addressing operational cybersecurity challenges faced by ECCs at various levels, including federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial (FSLTT). As ECCs transition to Next Generation 911 (NG911) from legacy systems, they are exposed to a range of potential cybersecurity risks. This program serves the critical purpose of bridging these cybersecurity gaps by providing essential resources and knowledge to establish a secure and resilient emergency communications environment. Enacted as a pivotal directive through the March 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act, the CR911 program empowers CISA to establish a robust 911 ecosystem, ensuring alignment with National Institute of Standards and Technology cybersecurity standards while accommodating diverse data, video, and information services. Collaborating closely with FCC, NHTSA, and NTIA, CISA is actively laying the foundation for the CR911 program, drawing guidance from the National 911 Program NG911 Roadmap.

CISA is committed to hosting a series of interactive regional symposiums across the United States through 2024. These symposiums will be tailored to address the specific needs of the 911 community, promoting dialogue and collaboration between FSLTT stakeholders. By understanding the immediate needs and concerns of these stakeholders, the CR911 program can prioritize cybersecurity initiatives effectively.

As the CR911 program gains momentum, its mission and vision stand as beacons guiding the way forward. The inaugural CR911 symposium was a notable stride on the path toward a secure emergency communications ecosystem. Powered by the partnership of CISA, FCC, NHTSA, and NTIA, and bolstered by the unwavering commitment of stakeholders, the CR911 program is poised to shape the course of emergency communications, ensuring the unwavering resilience of our 911 systems in the face of evolving cyber threats.